May 28 2015
Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) is retiring after more than three decades of service to the United States Air Force.
“I’ll turn 60 this summer which is the mandatory retirement age for the Air Force Reserves,” said Graham, who holds the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves and is assigned as Senior Individual Mobilization Augmentee to The Judge Advocate General. “Although I would cherish the opportunity to continue to serve, I know that the time has come for me to end my service and transfer to the retired reserves.”
“It’s been one of the great honors of my life to serve in the Air Force in some capacity for more than three decades,” continued Graham, who just completed another short tour of duty in Afghanistan over the Memorial Day recess. “The Air Force has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It identified and developed my talent, and helped me become useful to my country. It offered me adventure and showed me the world. It gave me a purpose bigger than myself. It put me in the company of patriots. It’s been almost like family to me. I’m going to miss it an awful lot, and I wouldn’t leave if they weren’t making me.”
Graham compiled a long and distinguished career in the Air Force. He served on active duty for six and a half years (1982-1988), including four years in Europe. Graham also served in the South Carolina Air National Guard (1989-1995) before joining the U.S. Air Force Reserves (1995-present).
Graham first rose to prominence when he uncovered and exposed major problems with the Air Force drug testing procedures at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The mishandling of samples had led to false positives and the dismissal from the Air Force of service members who had not used drugs.
His work was later showcased in a 1984 60 Minutes piece and he was also awarded The Air Force Commendation Medal for his work in uncovering problems with the program.
“Of all the Area Defense Counsel within the USAF Judiciary, Captain Graham deserves recognition as having made the most significant, overwhelming and positive impact upon the administrative and judicial due process entitlements afforded to Air Force military members,” wrote Lt. Colonel Robert E. Reed of the US Air Force of Graham in February 1984. “He coupled tireless efforts and unparalleled knowledge while investigating and litigating the various procedures and scientific methodologies involved in the DOD Drug Urinalysis Program. The fruits of his labor caught the attention of officials within the highest echelons of the Department of Defense, Air Force and the Judge Advocate General.”
From 1984-1988, Graham was assigned overseas and served at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Germany.
“During this period, Captain Graham’s professional skill and unrivaled ability to turn conflict and friction into agreement and cooperation resulted in major contributions to the state of discipline in the United States Air Forces in Europe,” according to the citation accompanying the Meritorious Service Medal awarded to Graham. “The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Captain Graham while serving his country reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.”
In 1989, Graham joined and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard. During the first Gulf War in the early 90's, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as Staff Judge Advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region.
“Major Graham is truly an outstanding officer and career professional,” wrote Colonel Jerry H. Risher, of the South Carolina Air National Guard (SCANG) in Graham’s 1992 performance report. “His untiring efforts during the Desert Storm mobilization provided expert advice and guidance on legal affairs for approximately 800 personnel. His exceptional ability and energetic approach to accomplish each task inspires all who work with him.”
As senator, Graham continued to serve in uniform. During congressional and holiday breaks, Graham often pulled short-term reserve duty in Iraq and Afghanistan where he worked on Rule of Law issues.
Last summer while serving another stint on reserve duty in Afghanistan, Graham was presented with the Bronze Star Medal for his “exceptionally meritorious service.” The commendation covered the period of August 2009 to July 2014 for his service as Senior Legal Advisor during Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to the commendation, “During his active duty training periods, he provided expert advice and a long term perspective about rule of law development and detention operations. He participated in 60 missions in a combat environment advising six general and flag officers during engagements with key members of the Afghan Criminal Justice Sector. ….Colonel Graham’s distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the highest honors and traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, and the United States Air Force.”